By Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

The Hunger Games world is abuzz with casting rumors. For those of you who don’t know, The Hunger Games is a futuristic trilogy set in a dystopian version of America, where children are forced to fight to the death on national television. The first in this immensely successful book series, by Suzanne Collins, is now being set to a highly anticipated film, which is expected to rival Harry Potter and Twilight.

We are extremely fortunate to have Gabby Vittoria and Pauline Hughes from The Hob to break down the leading contenders in this heated casting debate. Rue may not seem like a central character, and that’s just the way she likes it! The thing is, this tiny, Prim-like District 11 tribute is vitally important and will prove monumental in how the movie is perceived. Shhhh.

Note: The Hob is one of the top fan sites on the web, and we strongly encourage that you visit their site for more information.

Part I: Katniss
Part II: Haymitch
Part III: Peeta
Part IV: Gale
Part V: Effie
Part VI: President Snow
Part VII: Prim
Part VIII: Cinna
Part IX: Rue
Part X: Tributes
Part XI: The Others

Related: Interview with Tanvi Berwah of Hunger Games Network on the international impact

Willow Smith

Gabby: I would rather see someone tinier as Rue. I think her music personality is too distracting for me to see her in the role. Grade: C

Pauline: I know some people have suggested Willow Smith. Perhaps with a toned down look and good acting chops she could pull it off. Grade: C

Adam:
Willow Smith may be talented as an entertainer, but she just doesn’t fit my preconceived image of Rue. I envision someone less demonstrative, who sneaks through the shadows and glows effervescently once you get to know her. Katniss needs to connect with Rue in a sisterly way. More pillow, less Willow. Grade: C

Savanna:
Rue may fly from treetop to treetop with the agility of a bird, but she doesn’t exactly strike me as the “whip your hair back and forth” type. Willow Smith can sing, though, which is necessary for this role. But does she share enough of her family’s acting genes to muster up the fragile strength that defines Rue’s character?  Grade: C

Yara Shahidi

Gabby: Yara is cute! She can definitely be Rue, but she has to sing, too, let’s not forget that part. Grade: A

Pauline: I like her. I remember seeing her when she was mentioned as Rue a while ago…she was my #1. Grade: A

Adam: Yes! This girl looks like the kind of cute, helpless thing your heart would burst open for, the way Katniss’s does in the midst of unbearable circumstances. And yet, you can imagine a deeper resolve within her countenance. As long as she can act competently, I would love to see Yara as Rue. Grade: A

Savanna: I know basically nothing about Yara Shahidi, but she’s a beautiful little girl and just looks like Rue to me. Based on interviews and a couple of movie clips, she also appears to have great screen presence, so I’d be satisfied to see her cast! Grade: A

Lauryn Alisa McClain

Gabby: It’s so hard to speculate on these young, relatively unknown girls. Lauryn looks good, too, but I like Yara more for some reason. Grade: B

Pauline: She’s cute, but I don’t know anything she’s been in…just going off her look. I still like Yara better. Grade: B

Adam: McClain would be a pretty solid choice. We don’t know much about her experience on screen, but then again — it’s not like these girls should be up for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Most likely, this will be a promising start for an unknown actress, who uses this to land greater roles. McClain looks a little tougher than Shahidi, but that might suit a girl who grew up in terrible oppression well. Grade: A-

Savanna: All of the girls we’ve discussed so far are so damn adorable, I’m starting to feel like we’re comparing apples and apples. I’ve seen Lauryn’s name thrown out here and there by Hunger Games fans, but as with Yara Shahidi, I really know nothing about her. She does sing, though, so that gives her a bit of an extra edge. Grade: A-

Picktainment’s Pick

Advika Yadav

Adam: It sounds like the casting team wants to pick an African-American, and the fact that Suzanne Collins is so actively involved makes me think that was her intention. Advika Yadav was a long-shot to begin with, but to borrow my late step-grandfather’s expression: “a dead horse in China has a better chance of winning the lottery than I do.” I think at some point in life, I’ll buy a lotto ticket in a dead Chinese horse’s name, but in the meantime, I’ll throw some support behind a not-dead person in India, whose performance in Pyaar Impossible! made me think such a casting is possible. Grade: A-

Savanna: In the books, Rue is described as having dark brown skin and eyes. Most seem to assume she’s African-American — an assumption confirmed in a recent interview with director Gary Ross — but many fans have theorized that perhaps she’s Hispanic, Native American, or Indian. If Rue’s ethnicity were more ambiguous, Advika Yadav, who is Indian, could be an intriguing choice. She was great in the Bollywood film Pyaar Impossible!, displaying scene-stealing charm and singing talent. My concern with Advika is that we’ve only seen her in one movie, and her character was self-centered and spoiled, the last two traits I would ever associate with Rue. I would need to see more range from her in order to fully endorse her. She may also be too young… Grade: B

 

Regarding Saoirse Scott…

At the moment, Saoirse Scott’s name is attached to Rue at the Internet Movie Database’s entry for the Hunger Games film. However, along with Jackie Evancho as Prim, Saoirse is mysteriously labeled as “uncredited,” and as far as we know, her involvement has not yet been officially confirmed.

Adam: So little is known about Miss Scott, but evidence suggests she could very well be Rue. I don’t like her as much as Shahidi or McClain, and I question whether she has the right look, but I’ll put some faith in the casting directors if they do ultimately decide to pluck her out of obscurity. Grade: B

Savanna: Saoirse Scott seems so slight and has such a cherubic face, imagining her flung into the horrors of the Hunger Games is absolutely heartbreaking, to say the least. Knowing nothing of her abilities as an actress, I can’t judge anything other than her appearance, which is as Rue-like as they come, really. Grade: A-

Adam Spunberg is a senior writer at Picktainment and founder of the Austen Twitter Project. Email him at adam@picktainment.com or tweet @AdamSpunberg.

Savanna New is an associate editor at Picktainment. Email her at
savanna@picktainment.com.